My husband has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. So, there’s that. I know it is hard to hear but I have decided there is no way to slip that delicately into casual conversation or ease it into a post.
In this post my goal is to just give you the details as we know them and the promise to return often to tell more of our story. A lot has happened between and during each step below. We encourage you to share this journey with us and feel free to ask questions; we welcome the chance to share what we know. Knowledge is power.
- Mike had a blood test that showed elevated PSA levels – moderate but not off the charts.
- Then a second blood test – slightly higher PSA, hmmmmm, we need “next steps”, which means a biopsy.
- A prostate biopsy is a minimally invasive, 20 minute, office procedure. Mike calls bullshit on that statement. He was on the business end of having 12 core samples taken from his prostate. He was awake for this procedure. He says “Minimally invasive my ass!” Literally.
- They found indications of cancer in the 12 core samples. In each instance of cancer that they found they ranked the severity from 1 low to 5 high. The majority of what they found was at stage 3 but there were some occurrences of stage four giving Mike a Gleason score of 3 + 4 = 7 which is better than a 4 + 3 = 7 as that would mean the majority was 4 with lesser amounts having 3. So, that’s a win for our team.
- Statistically he is young for this stage of prostate cancer and to do nothing is not an option. The choices are either radiation or surgery.
The options and final decision.
- It is done, one fell swoop. Remove the prostate.
- They remove the surrounding lymph nodes and test them as well.
- They get a visual of what is going on inside you and can take additional tissues samples if there is any indication the cancer was not contained to the prostate.
- Afterwards you have an expected PSA level of zero and testing routines to detect additional cancer or reoccurrence. If not, prostate cancer cells are on the loose.
- Very invasive. One or two day hospital stay.
- Catheter for two weeks. (Mike is thrilled about that one!)
- Six weeks off work. (Did I mention Mike just started a new job at the end of January?!? No sick leave, no FMLA coverage.)
- All the normal risks of surgery.
- Less invasive.
- Equally as effective as surgery.
- Treatment is 5 days a week for 9 weeks. I love my husband, but ya’all know that he is NOT a patient, long-haul kind of guy.
- If not successful it makes surgery a more difficult process.
- Ongoing benchmarks and testing are more difficult. PSA levels can fluctuate, therefore, not being a good indicator of additional cancer or reoccurrence. It can create many false positive situations.
Oregon Urology and OHSU (more on their role in a future post) agree that Mike, as a younger, healthier man would be better served by surgery and we agree. Radiation is a better choice for someone older or whose health would be compromised by an invasive surgery.
Yesterday we met with the surgeon we selected, Dr. Kollmorgan with Oregon Urology Institute. We feel very fortunate to have him. He has done over 600 prostate removals and will be assisted by another physician who is just as skilled as he is. Mike is scheduled for surgery at RiverBend Hospital on April 5th.
The game is on.
*Never Fucking Quit. You will see this a lot in my blog and on Facebook… both in my posts and in many of my friends’ posts… in honor of our friend and the fiercest cancer fighter ever, Chris Olafson. It was his mantra and we carry it on in his memory.